Andrea Pitts (B.A., UNF 2006; currently pursuing her Ph.D. at USF) will be presenting our first annual UNF alumni lecture at Saturday’s conference. The title of her paper is “A Chimera, Lie, and Illusion: Reciprocal Love in Rousseau.” Here is the abstract:
This essay examines how Rousseauian freedom and the imaginative exercise of foresight hinder the possibility of a reciprocal love relationship in Emile. First, I illustrate Rousseau’s conception of freedom as felt self-sufficiency. I defend this, in part, by showing how Rousseau’s free agent, Emile, must be raised to feel entirely independent from the desires and whims of those around him. Following this discussion, I explore the relationship between foresight and freedom in the education of Emile. In doing so, I demonstrate how Rousseau characterizes the educations of men and women and their respective imaginative abilities. Emile is required to control his imaginative projections with the aim of preserving his freedom. Emile’s lover, Sophie, on the other hand, must restrict her imaginative projections in order to love a concrete individual rather than an imagined ideal of a lover. In the second half of the essay, I explore the relationship between Emile and Sophie and argue that the challenges that prohibit a reciprocal form of love between them are due to the restrictive educations and imaginative abilities they have been forced to acquire. Through his characterizations of the demands of freedom and reciprocal love in Emile, I claim that Rousseau creates a scenario in which it impossible for a free individual to simultaneously love and be loved by another.